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8 year old can't swim and doesn't want to learn!

(29 Posts)
Bellygirl Wed 17-Feb-16 08:28:23

I tool DS swimming from a very young age, we would go once a week and he enjoyed it, but was never confident in the water and didn't like his head getting wet at all. As he got older and started school and I went into working full time the swimming became less and less. I am now really worried because he can't swim and people keep telling me how dangerous this is in case he ever got into trouble in water etc. The thing is he now has no interest in going swimming I've tried and tried to get him to go and also asked him about swimming lessons and he just point blank refuses - has anyone been in a similar situation or can just offer some advice? sad

Bellygirl Wed 17-Feb-16 08:29:29


musicmum75 Wed 17-Feb-16 08:31:13

Will he have swimming lessons with school at some point? Where I am they start them in Year 3. If so and they're not optional your problem would be solved!

knaffedoff Wed 17-Feb-16 08:39:12

My 7 + 5yr olds are learning to swim, not good at it and don't ever want to go. However as someone who relied upon school to teach me to swim, I insist they go. They enjoy swimming on holiday, they want to play in and around water and as such, it's not negotiable to me. I would start swimmining lessons asap otherwise you risk him not learning at all !

SmileAndNod Wed 17-Feb-16 08:45:23

Don't they have to be able to swim by the end of KS2? I thought this is why it's on the curriculum in schools? I may be wrong.

Mine aren't natural swimmers and don't particularly look forward to going but I insist they have to be able to swim a reasonable amount before they give up. Not only for the safety aspect but more for the stuff that may be limited to them when they're older if they can't swim eg diving on holiday for example.

SavoyCabbage Wed 17-Feb-16 08:45:28

I would just tell him it's something that has to be done, like having your injections.

A few years ago, in the floods in Queensland a boy called Jordan Rice died after insisting that rescuers helped his younger brother first. Neither of them were able to swim. It caused some controversy in Australia where swimming lessons are expensive and you have to pay for the ones through the school too. Quite a lot of people struggle to afford it.

MadisonMontgomery Wed 17-Feb-16 08:50:22

I wouldn't give him the option tbh. With any other sport I would respect his wishes, but with something as important as swimming? No.

What does he do when you are on holiday - does he go in the pool or the sea?

ineedamoreadultieradult Wed 17-Feb-16 08:50:31

I think at this age you might have to find the time (I know it's difficult and I'm not judging) to take him to the pool yourself I can't imagine many 8 year olds wanting to do swimming lessons when they would be in a class of mostly 4 ish year olds.

Readysteadyknit Wed 17-Feb-16 08:54:30

I agree with knaffe - this should be non-negotiable as it is a life skill and school swimming lessons are rarely sufficient to get a child swimming. IME if someone hasn't learnt before they leave primary, they are unlikely to learn at all.

KathyBeale Wed 17-Feb-16 09:01:59

My son is 8 and he's just started swimming with school. He is a great swimmer and actually swims with a club several times a week but there are kids in his class who can't swim at all. He's in year 4 - I think all schools do lessons at that stage, don't they?
I agree it's an important life skill. My littler son hates swimming and cried in almost every lesson. I let him give up but only once he could swim a width confidently. I felt mean making him go but it was worth it.

Bellygirl Wed 17-Feb-16 09:05:32

They don't do lessons in his school. I was thinking of taking him once a week after work but my biggest hurdle is how to make him do it, he is very strong willed and if he's decided he doesn't want to do something it's very difficult to get him to do it - he also likes to go against anything I say if I say black he will say white etc. I know it is a very important skill to learn and I feel truly awful for not making it a priority when he was much younger. I think I will try picking him up from after school club and driving straight to the pool, that way he won't have much time to think about it or put up a fight!

ineedamoreadultieradult Wed 17-Feb-16 09:27:46

If you take him yourself stay away from armbands they make your body in the wrong position for swimming. Try a woggle instead.

ineedamoreadultieradult Wed 17-Feb-16 09:30:58

Or don't even try to teach him, play games of catch and accidentally throw the ball into slightly deeper water once he is happily engaged in the game. He will naturally go onto tip toes to get it then it's a small step from that to a sort of doggy paddle action to get it when it goes even further away.

Dragongirl10 Wed 17-Feb-16 09:34:01

If he argues with you it is unlikely he will learn much, so l would book him for lessons then he has to go, and learn properly.

Maybe offer the carrot that when he can swim a length unaided he can give up the lessons if he wishes.

It is so important all kids can swim competently, it may well save their lives.

Mine never liked their lessons but it was non negotiable, now they love swimming.

countingdown Wed 17-Feb-16 09:35:30

How about booking some one to one lessons?

janx Wed 17-Feb-16 09:36:32

My son was scared of putting his head under water. He was almost phobic about it. He would cling onto us in the pool. I found some lessons where it was two children per teacher. It was expensive but he is completely different and loves going under water -the teacher was really encouraging and made it fun

Bellygirl Wed 17-Feb-16 09:59:11

Was going to go and buy him armbands today but thanks for the woggle advice - just looking at them on Amazon now, will definitely be getting one of these! I know he would hate lessons even more than just going with me, he is a very shy little boy so this would be a very daunting thing for him to do and would probably put him off even more! I'm going to start trying to take him once a week after work, not pushing the 'you're learning to swim' and more about it being fun. Hopefully the learning to swim will come naturally with that. If I ever have more kids they will be in swimming lessons as soon as they are allowed, to avoid this situation happening again! smile

BrieAndChilli Wed 17-Feb-16 10:10:22

My older two went to swimming lessons for 3 years and hated them. DD was on stage 2 for over 2 years and not progressing. Combined with the fact that my youngest has a perforated ear and will need an operation aged 12 and so can't swim under water or jump in pool etc and wears a special ear plug meaning normal swimming lessons wouldn't be very good for him.
We joined the local gym and now take the kids swimming ourselves 1-2 times a week. The kids love it and stay in the water for up to 2 hours whereas at swimming lessons they would probably only actually swim for 5 minutes.

MeridianB Wed 17-Feb-16 13:06:59

As someone who did not learn until i was 11, I will be ensuring my DS learns asap and I think you are right to push it.

I think the older children get, the harder it is. I also remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed and so refused lessons and offers of help, compounding the problem.

I developed a fear of pools and the sea - would not ever jump into a pool and swimming made me panicky. We didn't have school lessons. I solved it in the end aged 19 by learning to scuba dive. I pushed myself more and more until I was a stronger swimmer and eventually a rescue diver.

But, given the choice, i would much rather have avoided all the angst and just learnt as a young child (ie 4 or 5).

somewheresomehow Wed 17-Feb-16 14:58:16

Is he in, or would he join a cub/scout group they may go swimming and he may find it easier among friends just playing in the water rather than 'lessons'

FreshsatsumaforDd Wed 17-Feb-16 15:14:06

Ds had lessons for years in a kiddies pool and seemed happy and confident but continually put his feet down, so never actually learned to swim.

Eventually, I took him to a local lady who's classes were always sold out, usually very quickly, who gave lessons in a deeper pool. One week holiday classes, every day at the same time.

She was in the water with the children and put them into a suit with a number of floats which slipped into pockets around their chest. She took each child individually hands very near the child and gradually removed the floats if she felt they were ready, without telling them. She was very confident, loud and hands on, in fact, many mum's were a bit scared of her.

Ds, although a nervous child, loved it and swam with all the floats removed the very first day!

My advice, a deeper pool and someone in the water with the child.

2ndSopranosRule Fri 19-Feb-16 11:12:15

Both my dc got dragged taken to swimming lessons at the age of three. Both screamed the place down for the first couple of lessons. Dd1 is 8 now and a cracking swimmer; dd2 is 5 and can also swim without any flotation devices.

My advice? Enrol him in lessons - maybe an intensive course in the holidays if you can - and take him. Bribery is very useful in this situation: offer a treat following his lesson. I know you're not supposed to offer food as reward but the promise something from the vending machine works wonders. Or a magazine. Or anything he would consider a treat! Between times, we try to go for fun as often as we can. It's our rainy day activity of choice and we'd much sooner spend a couple of hours in a pool than a play centre.

Going against the mn trend of children don't need swimming lessons to swim, I think unless you are a very technically competent swimmer they do. The better the technique, as boring as it can be to acquire, the better the swimmer you'll be and you'll get more enjoyment.

Dancingbea Fri 19-Feb-16 20:27:31

My 7 year old has only learned to swim in the last year. He seemed to do so with the help of one of those floaty jackets, which gave him the confidence to swim lengths, and then could do it without. He's not great, but he can manage fine. I just took him myself for an hour or so at the weekends. He'll get there

memum1 Fri 19-Feb-16 21:08:25

Goggles changed everything for my DD!

LIZS Fri 19-Feb-16 21:12:53

Look for intensive lessons in the holidays in a warm pool. Private schools often do small group or individual ones. Even a week of sessions can make a difference.

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